We live in a fast world. What worked last month may not work so well today. This applies to starting companies, raising money, building software, and marketing your product or service. If you need more proof check out this timeline from Hootsuite, or the latest posts about changes to Google and Facebook. All of this evidence points to one fact: In order to stay relevant, you must always be learning.
My daughter goes to the Northwest school in Seattle. They focus on a broad curriculum and strive to develop kids with a global perspective. But above all else, they encourage a passion for lifelong learning. Even the nature of education is changing with companies like Creative Live, Everpath (I am an investor in both), and Code Academy. These companies give people the ability to learn new skills, in an on-demand way, at a rapid pace, and by learning from the best. This is an important trend, especially when it comes to “online” skills which are changing at disproportionately fast rate.
I start companies and advise others because I think it’s the fastest and best way to learn things. When you surround yourself with people who want a problem solved badly (great early customers), and people who can attempt solutions (great startup people and developers), you create a virtuous cycle of discovery, evaluation, and learning. This process is exciting and fun. Granted, it is way more fun when it works and you can actually solve a problem – but even the struggle is valuable and instructive.
I also tend to learn from my community of entrepreneurs. This means spending time at Techstars, Startup Weekend, or Geekwire events, where the richness of the community and diversity of perspective and ideas move at a very rapid pace. Learning from VC’s has been especially valuable, since they have a very broad perspective and are first to hear about the next generation of ideas. With many VC’s creating great content (like Brad Feld, Fred Wilson, Mark Suster, Tomaz Tunguz, Reid Hoffman and Marc Andreessen), the resources for learning are endless.
I also learn a ton from the team here at Rival IQ, where we are pushing the bounds of data, content marketing, and marketing intelligence. Spending my time building and advising also helps me test approaches and learn what resonates.
At Rival IQ, we have a deep passion for learning. Hell, the whole application is about learning what is working for your competitors or companies you admire. We are on a quest to learn what works across the whole spectrum of online marketing. What are the right channels? What are the best practices? Do you need to be first to a new channel or just be a fast-follower? How do different channels work for different products and customers? The answer lies in the data, in the patterns, and in the comparisons. We are going to find these answers!
We have a team and a culture for continuous learning. How should we build the product (we keep modifying our own process) and the company? What platforms should we use (Heroku, Node, AWS), and what products should we use to engage our customers (Intercom, Stripe, Full Contact, YesWare)? We further this learning with the use of sites like Best Vendor to find and evaluate even more.
I contend that everyone’s world is changing more rapidly than they perceive – and if you are not constantly looking at what you need to learn, you will be left behind, or at least be less effective. The tools are out there to discover, try, refine, and modify your approach. Everyone has a community of people who are also discovering new solutions to common problems.
What do you want to learn next? Where will you find the answers or the people attempting to solve the problems?